Trump’s PAC: A Cash Cow for Legal Bills or a Campaign Finance Nightmare?

Let’s delve into the intriguing tale of former President Donald Trump’s political action committee (PAC), Save America. Trump rallied his base with the infamous “Big Lie”, convincing them he had been robbed of an election victory and persuading them to pour over $250 million into his post-election war chest. This mammoth pile of cash was partly allocated to settle campaign debts and support the Republican National Committee, but a substantial slice made its way to Trump’s shiny new PAC.

Fast forward to today, with Trump entangled in multiple criminal indictments and the possibility of further prosecutions on the horizon. His Save America PAC has turned into a sort of unofficial legal defense fund, having shelled out a whopping $40 million on legal costs in the first half of this year alone, as reported by The Washington Post. If we take into account the $16 million spent since the 2020 election, it becomes clear that a significant portion of this funding has been funneled into law firms’ pockets, all for the purpose of representing Trump in various investigations and lawsuits.

To refresh your memory, Trump was slapped with 34 felony counts related to allegations of hush money payments intended to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016. He was arrested in New York in early April. Things didn’t get any easier for Trump in June when the Justice Department made history by filing federal criminal charges against a former president, accusing him of hoarding classified military secrets at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The cherry on top was the recent indictment alleging that Trump orchestrated the deletion of key security camera footage to obstruct investigations.

As the legal fees keep piling up, the strain on the Save America PAC’s coffers is becoming apparent. So much so that it recently asked for a $60 million refund from another pro-Trump group, as reported by The New York Times.

But wait, there’s a twist in the tale. Some experts believe that Trump might be playing fast and loose with campaign finance laws. Given that he is potentially eyeing a run for the presidency in 2024, the payments made by his PAC could be seen as campaign contributions and should be limited to the standard $3,300. As Jason Torchinsky, a campaign finance expert, warns, “Payments by a PAC that exceed the contribution limit are contributions to the candidate and are unlawful.” While it’s a contentious issue, there’s a sense that this might be a legal grey area. Still, one has to wonder: Is Trump’s PAC merely a vessel to pay legal fees, or is it potentially a ticking campaign finance time bomb?